Gun Season: From The Perspective Of A Bowhunter
Both are terms one could use to describe the banter back and forth between hunters at times...and nothing incites more illogical arguments than bringing up gun season amongst bow hunters.
To be honest one of my least favorite things is reading or hearing arguments amongst law abiding, ethical and proficient hunters.
Did you catch that though? Law abiding, ethical and proficient.
Often times when I meet someone that uses the term "hate" when talking about the opening weekend of firearm season it all boils down to one of two things; a past occurrence or occurrences of illegal activity by opening day hunters and/or the hunting practices by those same opening weekend hunters...only a few times is it due to someone killing "their" trophy buck.
Often times it never boils down to the fact the hunter is carrying a firearm it has everything to do with how they hunt. If I'm 100% honest with you I used to despise firearm season, but merely for selfish reasons. I despised the fact that all my hardwork at protecting so many young bucks or work on a specific buck could be undone in a mere minute by a guy hunting without a plan or care, in his jeans and flannel jacket with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
Now while I still don't understand hunting as I described above I have grown to understand the beautiful thing about hunting is the fact it can be as intense as you make it or as passive as you make, and both extremes are neither more wrong or more right...so long as you stay ethical and legal in your hunting.
That last part is the key though, and that is where the crux of firearm season's opening weekend lies for me. It isn't that thousands of legal and awesome hunters will hit the woods, because they will...it is the minority of "people with a tag" that will hit the woods that day, a much higher concentration of this kind will flood the woods than on any other day or weekend.
Now before you start labeling me as one who feels he's better or is judging others...allow me to express the kind of "people with a tag" I worry about on the opener. I would venture to bet NO fellow hunter want the kinds I'm about to describe sharing the woods with them.
-They are the kind that don't care about property lines...AT ALL. They will shoot across them, walk over them and hunt beyond them. This is why I have some dislike for the opener.
-They are the kind that are not well practiced and proficient with their firearm. They will shoot at 200 yards across a corn field, yet have only practiced prior out to 70 feet...twice...two days prior. This is why I have some dislike for the opener.
-They are the kind that would rather attempt a shot than pass a shot. Running or moving targets will be shot at, head shots will be attempted and dangerous shots with houses or other hunters beyond the target will occur. This is why I have some dislike for the opener.
-They are the kind that will not attempt a recovery unless the deer dropped within sight...yes this happens. This is why I have some dislike for the opener.
Nothing that I have stated above can only be said of firearm hunters though. With just a few changes some bowhunters fit ALL the above criteria as well. I've grown to not despise the opener due to the fact a firearms hunter may harvest a big buck I'm after...or the fact thousands are now in the woods and the quiet is gone...or the fact the deer are never the same after...no I hold some despise for the opener because a lot of "people with a tag" will walk into the woods without a care at all for others, respect for the game or those brothers/sisters they claim to be part of by owning a tag. Having a tag doesn't make you a hunter.
This is why I'm always stressing character, ethical choices and constantly striving to keep hunters accountable in their thoughts and actions, for we cannot expect our understaffed DNR to catch everyone. We have to be of assistance as well in keeping this sport as clean as possible.
Furthermore we as hunters MUST protect the integrity of the sport and be willing to teach new hunters the proper way to do pretty much anything they are struggling with. Keep in mind honest mistakes can occur but teachable moments should always be grasped and utilized...otherwise we are just as wrong as those committing violations or making unethical decisions.
That is why I hold some fear and dislike for the opener and if I'm honest...it's not that I'm a bowhunter, it's simply because I'm a hunter.
It is that hunting part of me that is still excited for this weekend, whether I hunt or not. I pray my friends and fellow hunters have a safe and happy opener, may God bless your hunt!
Small Acre Hunting
**Next blog post will be about handling the situation of losing a spot come gun till others are done...and how to handle that and plan accordingly for late season hunting.